Dr. Donnetrice Allison, Director of Strategic Initiatives and Professor of Communications and Africana Studies, submitted a proposal to add race and racism to the set of course graduation requirements. This requirement, similar to the school’s current writing and quantitative reasoning requirements, would ensure that students gain knowledge of racial discrimination and oppression.
Dr. Allison proposed this curriculum additive as a response to the death of George Floyd on May 25, 2020. As many universities offered statements of support for the Black Lives Matter Movement, the Stockton Faculty Assembly further proposed changes to the educational curriculum that would require students to complete coursework on “systemic racial oppression and discrimination in the United States,” she cited in her proposal.
“After everything that unfolded this spring and summer with protests and such,” said Allison, “Interim Provost McDonald asked me to take the position as Director of Strategic Initiatives to work on things such as this.”
She asserts in her proposal that this requirement, entitled “Race and Racism Education,” would allow Stockton alumni to become “part of the solution” against racial discrimination in the U.S.
The proposal includes the use of R1 and R2 indicators which would be added to existing Stockton courses. R1 courses should focus primarily on race and racism, whereas R2 courses should only spend approximately 25-30% of time on race-related material.
Dr. Allison emphasized the use of pre-existing classes to satisfy this requirement. “For classes that are R2, ideally what I would like to see happen is that within each major they would take a class that’s already required for their students, and readjust it to talk about how racism is a part of that subject, because racism is a part of everything.”
“If it’s a theatre class, they could talk about how even in early theatre, there were limitations–black artists couldn’t perform, or they had the use of black-face,” continued Allison. “The Criminal Justice Program is already working on that, making sure that one of their already required classes will deal with that.” She added, “if it’s structured that way, then the students don’t have to take any extra classes, so it’s not increasing the number of credits required.”
According to Dr. Allison, 25 existing courses would immediately be eligible to be R1 courses. However, considering the existing 100 courses with W1, Q1, W2, and Q2 indicators, she deemed it “vital” to create a committee to support and provide resources to this endeavor.
According to their Academic Programs and Planning (APP) Committee Feedback and Response Form, the Faculty Senate would need to greatly increase the number of seats and classes available for incoming students to accommodate the approximate 2,200 students who would need to take them each year. Another large concern for the Senate is the potential need to hire more faculty to teach these courses, the form stated.
The Faculty Senate is scheduled to vote on Dr. Allison’s proposal during their March 12 meeting. After receiving support from the Faculty Senate, the 45-page proposal is set to be voted on by the Board of Trustees in May 2021.
Dr. Allison’s passion for education began when she was a student herself. As a first generation student, Dr. Allison was the youngest of seven children and the only one to attend college. She originally wanted to be a novelist and completed her undergraduate degree in English. While completing her Master’s of Mass Communication, and her Ph.D. in Intercultural Communication and Rhetoric at Howard University, she was afforded the opportunity to teach her own courses as a graduate teaching assistant.
Her educational background focused heavily on the subject of race in media. “My focus in what I’ve published, my articles, the book I have out, has always been back to that interest in communication and media. I’ve written about race and racism in media, such as how black people have been historical portrayed.”
Dr. Allison’s personal experience as a person-of-color has also influenced her passion for race education. She noted, “I’ve been in those situations where I’m the only person of color. At James Madison, I was the only black faculty in the Communications Department. It was the same when I came to Stockton–in the Communications Program, I was the only black professor.”
Dr. Allison has consistently been involved as a campus leader, serving as Faculty Senate President, Coordinator of the Communications Program, and currently the Coordinator of Africana Studies. “I’ve been teaching at Stockton for about 16 years now … and as long as I’ve been at Stockton I’ve been involved in Africana Studies,” she added. “I was heavily involved in the proposal to make Africana studies a major. Once it was a major, I fully transitioned to the Africana Studies Program.”
Dr. Allison remains committed to teaching the history of race and discrimination. She affirmed, “I have always had a desire to make sure the curriculum reflects how race and racism have changed our society.”
To learn more about the proposal, it can be viewed under “Proposal for Race/Racism Education Across the Curriculum” on the Faculty Senate website at https://stockton.edu/faculty-senate/meeting-documents.html.